April 28, 1997 12:00 PM

>Jimi Hendrix’s Sister


After Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 at age 27 following a drug overdose, his career chugged along without him, yielding more albums posthumously than were released in his lifetime. There wasn’t much the guitarist could do about it. But now his little half sister can. Two years ago, Janie Hendrix, 36, and their father, Al Hendrix, 77, were given control, after a bitter two-year lawsuit, of Jimi’s music and image—reportedly worth $6 to $8 million per year. This week the family (Jimi’s mother, Lucille, died in 1957) will reissue on MCA his first three albums, and release as a complete set the material he was recording at the time of his death, First Rays of the New Rising Sun.

Hendrix—just 9 when Jimi died—always wanted to look after her brother. “When I was 6, I made him a promise that I would take care of him,” says Janie, who used to work in marketing and teach kindergarten. “I didn’t like the way his managers were not feeding him before concerts.” Hendrix still lives in the family’s hometown of Seattle with her husband, Troy Wright, and their four boys. She spoke to PEOPLE’S Andrew Abrahams.

What are your memories of Jimi?

When he came home from a tour, our family would want to know who he had met and how was Woodstock, but he would ask our cousins about guys they were dating—he was more concerned with us. Jimi [also] had this big cape, and he would sing the Batman theme and chase me all over the house, then engulf me in the cape.

What’s your marketing philosophy?

It’s always with the thought of, “Would Jimi think this is cool?” People have proposed little statues of Jimi with a spring in them—you push them down and they jump up. The worst item I saw was his image inside an ashtray. We merchandise things like watches shaped like Stratocaster guitars, with his signature on the face.

Are any of your kids showing interest in the family business?

My oldest son, Austin, who’s 10, got a Fender guitar two years ago, and he’s learned about 15 of Jimi’s songs. One day he said, “Grandpa, let me show you something!” He started playing “Voodoo Chile” and “Little Wing.” My dad had tears rolling down his face. He said, “That’s how Jimi started.”

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